Bauer Xcel eyes off international brands for local roll-out as it prepares for relaunch of Dolly

Bauer Media has indicated it plans to roll out its UK digital platform The Debrief locally despite Mamamia launching a similarly-named digital product Daily Debrief last year, after a legal attempt by the German-owned publisher was thrown out of court. The Debrief

The launch is part of the Bauer Media’s digital plans to leverage international brands locally as the company begins to flex its digital muscles one year after it placed its digital operations in a separate division locally.

Speaking with Mumbrella, Carl Hammerschmidt, managing director of Bauer Xcel, said: “Bauer Xcel was launched last year globally by the Bauer business but at the same time we launched the women’s network, To Love, in April out of the Mi9 partnership on to our own platforms and our own technologies. They were simultaneous launches effectively.”


Hammerschmidt: “We’re looking at a product in the UK called The Debrief”

Bauer Xcel was launched globally in April last year, rolling out locally the first stage of its female-focused To Love network at a similar time to Food to Love and relaunching the websites for Woman’s Day and the Australian Women’s Weekly.

It then launched Travel In in July and rolled out Homes to Love in September. Last week Bauer Xcel culled five positions,  including general manager of operations Marcelo Silva, with Hammerschmidt saying the roles have been cut as the company shifts from a delivery phase to an operational phase.

Now Bauer Xcel locally is turning its sights to assess which successful international brands would work in the Australian market.

“We’re currently looking at opportunities in the parenting space. Through Bauer Xcel we’re looking at launching some international products in the local market and we’re going to continue to optimise the products we’ve got and continue to launch new products over the last 6-12 months,” said Hammerschmidt.

“We’re looking at a product in the UK called The Debrief, which is a fantastic young women’s mobile-first, social, native content model. It’s a great opportunity for us.

“We’re looking at how we could potentially strengthen our young women’s portfolio with that. There’s a lot of scale we can gain in the teen space, in the food space, in a range of different verticals from a content perspective.”

Bauer has had its eyes on extending the Debrief brand to Australia for a while now as it took Mamamia to court at the end of 2014 over the similarity of the name of its spin-off site called Debrief Daily.

The case was thrown out in February 2015 leaving Mamamia to launch its Debrief Daily.

When asked about the branding similarities and the previous court action, Hammerschmidt was quick to say: “Branding pending – we haven’t made any decisions about that.

“As a product, as a model, as a platform, it’s a great product. We’re looking at how we can use that to strengthen our women’s portfolio.”

Bauer Xcel Media Meanwhile, Hammerschmidt described the last few years as “transformative” for Bauer.

“We’ve only owned our digital rights for two-and-a-half years as a business. Prior to the acquisition by Bauer they were wound up in the joint-venture with Nine and Ninemsn and Microsoft,” he said.

“In the acquisition from Bauer we did a lot of thinking about what we need to do to build a long-term sustainable business going forward, and in doing that we have built a fully-integrated digital business from scratch – technology, platform, sales capability, ad stack, product, distribution, content, editorial teams and so on.

“We’ve gotten that to market in the space of about 18 months, literally in under two years after the acquisition by Bauer and in doing so we’ve built a business of real scale, 4.5m users in a very quick time.”

When questioned if Bauer was late to the digital party, Hammerschmidt argued it is a “great time to be coming to market”.

“It’s a fantastic time to come to market and new digital businesses are coming to market every day of the week. In the last three years the market has shifted incredibly, there’s been a tectonic shift in the marketplace – the death of the homepage, the tipping point to mobile, the social nature of content,” he said.

“To be able to come to market in an environment like that with no legacy product, with fully-responsive product suites, with an ad-tech and sales capability designed for the customer first, mobile first experience with the barrier to entry coming down by the month, allowing us to scale further and invest in new platforms and new products, it’s a fantastic time to be coming to market.”

Hammerschmidt said Bauer Media has gone “from being a magazine business with a digital joint-venture with someone else to being a truly multi-media business, a mobile-first business, a truly cross-platform business and a truly cross-device business”.

“We’ve launched a couple of new brands, we’ve relaunched some of our big flagship products, we’ve built a sales capability from scratch and we’ve built a best-of-breed ad-technology capability as well,” he said.

“We’ve gotten that all to market 12 months ago in a very short amount of time. Like with all things digital you get some things right, you get some things wrong. You test, you learn, you iterate – that is the nature of digital.”

DollyThe company is in the process of relaunching monthly print magazine Dolly as a “bi-monthly, digital-first property”.

Hammerschmidt said audiences can expect “a bigger focus on video, a content mix which is designed more for the social consumption habits of that demographic and a much more mobile-first product”.

“Something that is not just designed to be snackable but something that is designed to draw out high levels of engagement as well,” he said.

“Dolly is an iconic brand. It’s a very well-trusted name for that segment and brand in that market. If we get the digital product proposition right, it’s going to be a powerful thing.”

When questioned on how the print and digital teams of not only Dolly but all the Bauer mastheads were working together Hammerschmidt explained: “All of our digital teams are embedded within the magazines teams”.

“It’s set up so we get maximum collaboration between the print and digital guys. There’s only a certain amount of synergies that you can draw out of a monthly commissioning cycle for an hourly, digital commissioning cycle anyway.

“We’ve got a policy across the business where all the content we produce is designed to be used across platforms and the teams are set up to facilitate the publishing of the best content for the best platform.

“From my perspective the way the digital teams are set up is working exceptionally well. We have great traction and audience growth across the digital platforms and for us it’s about how we refine the content re-use and get that monthly to daily to hourly publishing cycle better refined.”

Bauer is also set to relaunch Cosmopolitan, which is a joint-venture with Hearst International, as a digital-first product.

Miranda Ward


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